Southern California Vacation Questions

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Material Guy
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Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by Material Guy » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:12 pm

We will be in Southern California the last week of this month (Christmas to New Year Eve) for 5 days. Flying into LAX from the east coast. Will be with dw, ds (22) and dd (17). Main excuse is for dd to visit UCLA where she is applying, but it is more of a vacation. I had some general questions that I hope some of you will be able to answer.
  • We were thinking of staying in Santa Monica, as a convenient base. Don't want to be in too crowded an area. Good option?
  • We were also thinking of a couple of days in San Diego. Would that be too much? Or should we just stick to LA?
  • We were thinking of ditching a rental car and using metro rail/Lyft. Maybe renting if we decide to go to San Diego.
  • Considering the following to visit: UCLA; Getty Museum - new site off of 405 freeway; Getty Villa - old site; Griffith Park and Observatory; Hollywood - sign, walk of fame; Grumman’s theater; Queen Mary - Long Beach; Aquarium of the Pacific - Long Beach; Trip to Santa Catalina Island (Will skip the last 3 if we go to SD)
Any advice based on the above? Do these look reasonable? I have looked at the other discussions on this topic here and certainly got some good ideas. Thank you!

adamthesmythe
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by adamthesmythe » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:36 pm

If you are visiting UCLA then you will need to spend some time in LA. Personally I don't like LA and I would minimize the time spent there. Spend as much time as possible in San Diego or north along the coast (yes, i know they are in different directions).

> We were thinking of staying in Santa Monica, as a convenient base. Don't want to be in too crowded an area. Good option?

No opinion, see above.

> We were also thinking of a couple of days in San Diego. Would that be too much? Or should we just stick to LA?

See above.

> We were thinking of ditching a rental car and using metro rail/Lyft. Maybe renting if we decide to go to San Diego.

Not in California (with the possible exception of SF), everything is a drive. You NEED a car. Expect to spend a lot of time in traffic.

> Considering the following to visit: UCLA; Getty Museum - new site off of 405 freeway; Getty Villa - old site; Griffith Park and Observatory; Hollywood - sign, walk of fame; Grumman’s theater; Queen Mary - Long Beach; Aquarium of the Pacific - Long Beach; Trip to Santa Catalina Island (Will skip the last 3 if we go to SD)

I once did a whalewatching cruise from Long Beach and I liked it. Don't forget the San Diego Zoo.

boogiehead
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by boogiehead » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:38 pm

Material Guy wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:12 pm
We will be in Southern California the last week of this month (Christmas to New Year Eve) for 5 days. Flying into LAX from the east coast. Will be with dw, ds (22) and dd (17). Main excuse is for dd to visit UCLA where she is applying, but it is more of a vacation. I had some general questions that I hope some of you will be able to answer.
  • We were thinking of staying in Santa Monica, as a convenient base. Don't want to be in too crowded an area. Good option?
Santa Monica would be a prime spot to stay at, however it is going to be crowded just like any other prime location in LA (i.e. dtla, hollywood, etc...)
  • We were also thinking of a couple of days in San Diego. Would that be too much? Or should we just stick to LA?
Its doable, but since you are only going to be here 5 days I think it would be kinda of rushed if you try to fit SD as part of the trip.
  • We were thinking of ditching a rental car and using metro rail/Lyft. Maybe renting if we decide to go to San Diego.
Lyft or rental would probably be the best bet...public transportation is still quite inconvenient and it doesn't really makes sense with a family of 4 in terms of cost savings.
  • Considering the following to visit: UCLA; Getty Museum - new site off of 405 freeway; Getty Villa - old site; Griffith Park and Observatory; Hollywood - sign, walk of fame; Grumman’s theater; Queen Mary - Long Beach; Aquarium of the Pacific - Long Beach; Trip to Santa Catalina Island (Will skip the last 3 if we go to SD)
Got a good list going ... the only one I would question is catalina island as I don't believe its a "happening" place during winter as I've never heard of anyone going there around this time. Personally I would opt for an amusement park day (universal studios, disney, knotts) as besides Orlando, LA probably has be best ones in the states.

Any advice based on the above? Do these look reasonable? I have looked at the other discussions on this topic here and certainly got some good ideas. Thank you!

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triceratop
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by triceratop » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:50 pm

Considering the following to visit: UCLA; Getty Museum - new site off of 405 freeway; Getty Villa - old site; Griffith Park and Observatory; Hollywood - sign, walk of fame; Grumman’s theater; Queen Mary - Long Beach; Aquarium of the Pacific - Long Beach; Trip to Santa Catalina Island (Will skip the last 3 if we go to SD)
Skip Hollywood sign & walk of fame; swap Grauman's [sic] for New Beverly; add LACMA / Huntington Gardens.

Definitely do San Diego / La Jolla (esp. the cove). San Diego won't help much for your daughter to form impressions of LA, but I'd much prefer to spend time in SD than LA. Also consider Malibu.

disclosure: I live in la la land (as my location descriptor says).
"To play the stock market is to play musical chairs under the chord progression of a bid-ask spread."

runner3081
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by runner3081 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:52 pm

Newport Beach is great as well. We have been there 3 out of the last 4 years.

btenny
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by btenny » Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:01 pm

One of the best events in all the world is the Rose Bowl parade and the wonderful floats. If you have never been please make arrangements to see some of the floats as they are being built and maybe figure out how to see the parade live. The smell and sights are fantastic. Think about the smell from millions of roses and other flowers........

Also note that the Rose Parade and float barns are right by the Rose bowl stadium where UCLA plays. Many of the UCLA students do the float work and make careers in that field. So maybe go there as part of your campus visit.

https://www.tripsavvy.com/rose-parade-f ... ng-1478251
https://www.tripsavvy.com/rose-parade-f ... ng-1477957

Enjoy and have fun.... Good Luck.

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FlyAF
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by FlyAF » Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:04 pm

You need a car in LA, hence all the traffic. I'd personally spend as much time in SD versus LA as possible, but that doesn't really help your daughter much.

As someone who at one point attended UCLA from out of state, have you priced out of state tuition? I wasn't even paying for it and it made my head explode. :shock:

thomase
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by thomase » Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:10 pm

Howdy, I've visited UCLA multiple times the past couple years due to my kid being a student there. Definitely skip Hollywood walk of fame/Grauman's Chinese theater. Recommend going to California science center and see the space shuttle there. While there, might as well walk across to street and visit USC. As for lodging, I've always done an airbnb or hotel in Westwood, or Sherman Oaks (just to the north and cheaper). I've always driven my own car, I think not having a car would really limit the amount you can see. I'm sure you already know since you daughter is applying, but non-resident tuition for UCLA is $29k on top of the in-state $13.5k (tuition + various fees), not including room and board. Room and board in dorms range another 14k-15K. In other words, non-resident tuition is close to private school levels, so you might as well consider those (USC) as well.

btenny
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by btenny » Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:36 pm

I do not think you can do LA and San Diego and see UCLA in 5 days. You do SD or you do LA. You have to pick. I suggest you focus on LA and UCLA stuff. Go to UCLA for a day. Go to Universal Studios and take a real studio tour and ride stuff for a day. See some movie stuff. Go see the Rose Parade stuff for part of a day. See the La Brea tar pits and Museum, go to the Queen Mary and go to the Long beach Aquarium for day. Then you have to spend part or most of a day at the beach. Go in line skate or ride a bike or just people watch on the board walk in Venice Beach. Watch the Muscle Weight lifters. Have an ice cream cone in December at the beach. Do other sight seeing stuff.

https://www.universalstudioshollywood.com/
https://www.venicebeach.com/the-venice-beach-boardwalk/
https://www.venicebeach.com/muscle-beach-gym/
https://www.yelp.com/biz/la-brea-tar-pi ... os-angeles
https://www.queenmary.com/
http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/

And as far as LA I like the place. It is crowded and busy but that is that is what makes it work. And the beach areas from Venice Beach south to Redondo Beach and Long Beach are world class.

Enjoy.

stan1
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by stan1 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:43 pm

triceratop wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:50 pm
Considering the following to visit: UCLA; Getty Museum - new site off of 405 freeway; Getty Villa - old site; Griffith Park and Observatory; Hollywood - sign, walk of fame; Grumman’s theater; Queen Mary - Long Beach; Aquarium of the Pacific - Long Beach; Trip to Santa Catalina Island (Will skip the last 3 if we go to SD)
Skip Hollywood sign & walk of fame; swap Grauman's [sic] for New Beverly; add LACMA / Huntington Gardens.

Definitely do San Diego / La Jolla (esp. the cove). San Diego won't help much for your daughter to form impressions of LA, but I'd much prefer to spend time in SD than LA. Also consider Malibu.

disclosure: I live in la la land (as my location descriptor says).
Sure, since the point is to visit colleges I'd go to San Diego and take her to visit UCSD if she is interested in UCLA. For location UCSD has UCLA beat and academically its close enough in most areas. Not worth arguing whether a hypothetical #7 or #11 or #15 ranked school in any particular undergraduate program is better. Employers and graduate admissions offices won't see a big difference between UCLA and UCSD.

ebrasmus21
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by ebrasmus21 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:44 pm

Haven't read all the responses but here is my advice:

- LA/Hollywood is completely overrated (SoCal has so many options that are better IMO)
- Huntington Gardens is awesome
- Regan Library is awesome
- Laguna Beach is really nice
- San Diego is my favorite SoCal city. SD Zoo is incredible
- Huntington Beach is really nice as well
- South Coast Plaza (if you're into shopping and buying expensive things)
- Disney Land (crowded but amazing)
- Universal Studios

Now, I have to admit that UCLA is a beautiful campus. Like, really beautiful.

Hollywood, again in my opinion, is completely overrated. You'd be wasting a day.

There are many, many cool places to go in SoCal. DTLA and Hollywood would not be high on my list.

sbaywriter
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by sbaywriter » Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:55 pm

I'm surprised to see a recommendation to visit USC in downtown area, very long ways from west LA and UCLA and in not so great neighborhood. Likewise, Pasadena and the Huntington are a long drive.- I would recommend sticking on west side, or maybe as far east as Universal Studios which are fun and would give you a quick view of the hills and mountain ranges.

Griffith Park is beautiful and great for locals but I'm not sure is worth a trip for out of towners.

If you like art, the LA art museum on Wilshire is huge, guaranteed you will find something to enjoy, and right next to La Brea tar pits which may be fun too. I like the view and the architecture of the Getty but found the collection limited compared to LACMA and I guess I wasn't a fan of any of the periods represented.

Are you from cold part of east coast? If so, I think you will enjoy the coastal areas the most - beach weather in winter is great. There were major wildfires in the coastal mountains north of LA so you likely do not want to drive up that way (Malibu) - sounds like heading south along the coast would be better bet.

Darth Poppy
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by Darth Poppy » Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:08 pm

No trip to Southern California is complete unless you make a stop at Disneyland. It is the only park that Walt himself spent time at. While you are there, also go rob Disney’s California Adventure. Would be rushed, but get the park hopper pass and can visit both parks in one day. If you have ever visited Walt Disney World, DL and DCA provide an entirely different experience. We are from KY, WDW annual passholders, but love visitnging DL in California as often as we can.

LeftCoast
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by LeftCoast » Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:18 pm

UCLA grad and Santa Monica resident here. Santa Monica would be a good base for your visit, but hotels here are expensive and AIRBNB is basically banned. Please note that Washington and Ohio State are playing in the Rose Bowl on Jan 1st, and thousands of their fans are in the process of booking hotel rooms for the week that you will be here. Also, the theme parks are typically very busy during the week between Christmas and New Years.

You will want a rental car to get around Los Angeles. Your itinerary looks good, but personally I would skip Long Beach. If you go to San Diego, don't miss the zoo, as it's one of the best in the world.

Take the tour at UCLA, and make sure to visit the dorms. As you probably know, UCLA receives more applications than any other university in the country. This makes admission very competitive, especially for out of state applicants. Good luck to your daughter.

ladycat
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by ladycat » Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:28 pm

We were in the area in March. You can do the Aquarium in about 3 hours (its not very large). Also in Long Beach, the USS Iowa was very interesting, even if you're not a military history buff. Discounts on tickets to the combination of attractions is available.
A car is mandatory. Traffic is Awful.

ne2ca28
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by ne2ca28 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:33 pm

All these people that dislike LA must not be doing it right :D . LA is what you make it and hopefully whatever you like or do daily is within a 4 or 5 mile radius of where you live here. There's not many places where you can have spectacular restaurants, all star sports teams, the beach, the mountains, the small town atmospheres of places like Culver City and El Segundo, but the convenience of the big city, etc. There's a reason so many people live here.

San Diego is great, but if you are here for 5 days (travel days included?), thats cutting it close. I prefer to stop in Carlsbad which isnt too far away and take it easy there for vacation. I'd prefer to come back to visit San Diego during the warmer months.

Santa Monica, near the beach is busy and traffic is not fun. Visting the Santa Monica Pier, 3rd St Promenade, Abbott Kinney, Venice Boardwalk will be convenient if you are there. We spent a lot of time there when I visited for the first time doing college tours.

You can hop on the metro rail from Santa Monica and walk around downtown Culver City for a nice meal. You can also take the same metro rail to the Pico Exit and catch a Clippers / Lakers / Kings game at staples Center. The metro rail would also take you to the science center to see the space shuttle as someone else mentioned.

I agree with others and say that Hollywood is overrated, but if you are bored after other activities and just want to say you did it, go for it. Choose your time to go there wisely, though because traffic there is not fun.

Manhattan Beach is really nice. The pier has good restaurants and its a good walk along the strand.

LMU (not far from LAX) is also a great school if you wanted to check out more than just UCLA.

Get some In N Out Burger. Find an ocean front restaurant (weather permitting). Have fun!

I'm sure someone at the UCLA admissions office can offer a list of things to do, as well.

Material Guy
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by Material Guy » Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:48 pm

Thank you for all the fantastic suggestions! I had forgotten about the Rose Bowl! That certainly changes the plans somewhat. We fly out on the 30th so hopefully we will skip the worst of it. On the other hand, a visit to see the floats sounds like fun.

Home is Pittsburgh so the beaches and sunshine are certainly an attraction! We have been to Universal and Disney in Orlando and also to Disneyland many years ago. However, one of the other studio tours might be interesting.

DD has already applied to UCLA and the only school on the west coast! She has her reasons for applying there. Hence the other schools are of less interest. We are aware of the high out-of-state costs!

From the suggestions, I think we will skip Hollywood and Grauman's. Lots of recommendations for San Diego! Maybe we will squeeze in a couple of days there! Our 5 days does not include travel days.

Thanks again for the suggestions. And looks like we may need a rental car......sigh.

quantAndHold
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by quantAndHold » Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:59 pm

Not much to add. Agree with the people who say to skip Hollywood. I would skip Hollywood entirely. I would go to the Huntington gardens, though. Even in the winter. My favorite place in LA.

If you’re staying in Westwood and spending most of your time on or around the campus, you can get by without a car. Otherwise, get a car.

Keep in mind you’re going during what’s usually the coldest week of the year. Expect lows in the 30’s and highs that don’t get past 60, and you’ll be dressed correctly. Tell your daughter to not let it put her off of Southern California. Winter comes about the day before Christmas, then spring arrives in late January.

I would skip San Diego. As much as I love San Diego (I live there), five days is barely enough for LA.

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nopushover
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by nopushover » Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:34 pm

With only a 5-days visit, I recommend sticking with Los Angeles only. And then consider the personal interests of everyone in the family. Look to strike a balance. Going from one attraction to another can become wearing and a little boring. Yes, you will need a car. Luckily the week between Christmas and New Year is usually a great time to visit Los Angeles. In fact, you are likely to encounter into good traffic flow around town because that's when a lot of people are off. Still, there will be pockets of traffic, but nowhere near what it is the norm. Use WAZE or Google Maps app. Not to jinx you, but if you want to venture further beyond the westside you should. Just bunch things together based on area.

If your daughter is having a formal tour of UCLA (not sure if that is possible during the holiday, but I recommend that to get a true sense of the sprawling campus), then you want to stay on the westside of town that day for sure. Check out the Santa Monica Pier, walk/bike along the beach south to Venice boardwalk (with Muscle Beach and all quirky vendors) to Venice Pier. Hammer Museum is in Westwood and is free. Third Street Promenade has shopping and movie theatres. A couple of close-by places where the locals like to shop/eat is on Montana Avenue a little to the north or along Abbott Kinney in more bohemian/hipster Venice area to the south. Marina Del Rey to the south offers harbor tours. Eat at a food truck. Maybe look into an Escape Room to try with the family.

Driving up PCH toward Malibu is beautiful. For something off the beaten path if you like design and history, take a docent led tour of the Adamson House next to the beach in Malibu, near the start of the Malibu "Colony." You can learn about Malibu history as well as the story of Malibu tile and the house is a great example of Spanish style architecture and design. It's decorated for the holidays. I loved taking the tour a few years ago. Afterwards head further north to the shops in Malibu to eat and look around.
http://www.adamsonhouse.org/visit.php

Downtown LA has Broad Museum (entry is free but make reservations), which is near MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) Disney Hall and Music Center (there's always a play or two going on in the evening). A few blocks away is Grand Central Market for lots of food choices. During the week it's free to go up the viewing platform of city hall. If you're a baseball fan Dodgers Stadium is a few miles away and there is a paid tour which my husband and his baseball fan friend took one year and enjoyed. Griffith Park Observatory is in the general vicinity. There is a hiking path leading up from the parking lot that offers a great view of the Hollywood sign and an excellent view at the top of the hike (I forget what the viewpoint is called). You can't do all this in one day. Pick and choose.

One can drive along Sunset Blvd from the beach to downtown Los Angeles, which can take a while, but you see can see so many slices of the city…UCLA, Beverly Hills, Sunset Strip, Hollywood, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Chinatown, Olvera Street…

Good luck on your visit.

LFKB
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by LFKB » Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:36 pm

I live in Brentwood, right on the border of Santa Monica.

Santa Monica will be crowded but it's a great spot and relatively close to UCLA. If you want less crowds, go up to Malibu or down to Manhattan Beach but you'll be a bit removed.

Your list is pretty much a whose who or LA tourism...personally not what I am into but if you want to check out the spots then go for it. I would skip Hollywood and the Queen Mary from your list. Renting a duffy boat in Newport, biking/walking down the boardwalk in Santa Monica, hiking Mandeville Canyon, etc would be more my style. There are also a ton of good restaurants to check out - I can give you some recs if you let me know what you would be looking for price and cuisine wise.

San Diego is a tad far for a two night at just under 3 hours. You could consider a day trip (or overnight) to Newport Beach/Laguna Beach (one hour drive) or you could go up to Santa Barbara (2 hour drive) for a night or two. I would probably do one of those rather than make the trek to San Diego (unless you are considering flying out of San Diego so you only make the drive one way).

Thesaints
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by Thesaints » Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:41 pm

I second the Westwood recommendation. At the Beverly Hilton is quite good, for instance.
Having a car available will definitely be an advantage when you want to visit attractions which are distant from each other.
The 2 Getty's are both very good, as well as Griffith Park and the Science Center. On the other hand, the Hollywood sign...

I'd stick to LA given the available time.

LFKB
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by LFKB » Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:49 pm

quantAndHold wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:59 pm
Not much to add. Agree with the people who say to skip Hollywood. I would skip Hollywood entirely. I would go to the Huntington gardens, though. Even in the winter. My favorite place in LA.

If you’re staying in Westwood and spending most of your time on or around the campus, you can get by without a car. Otherwise, get a car.

Keep in mind you’re going during what’s usually the coldest week of the year. Expect lows in the 30’s and highs that don’t get past 60, and you’ll be dressed correctly. Tell your daughter to not let it put her off of Southern California. Winter comes about the day before Christmas, then spring arrives in late January.

I would skip San Diego. As much as I love San Diego (I live there), five days is barely enough for LA.
It's a lot more likely to be in the 80's that week than it is to be in the 30's. Santa Monica very rarely falls below 50 degrees (even at night) and very rarely doesn't hit at least 60 during the day.

rgs92
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by rgs92 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:59 pm

At UCLA, you will be smack in the middle of Westwood, which is a totally awesome place!
Unlike the cliche of LA being car-centric, Westwood is superb for walking. It is very scenic all the way from Wilshire to the UCLA campus.

The neighborhood is know as Westwood Village. There is nice architecture (Spanish Style) and a charming European feel to it.
I wish I could afford to live there.

I had some training classes there for several weeks and found stuff to do all day. There are lots of nice outdoor places to eat and great food with lots of really good fresh fruits and veggie-based food.

Just to repeat, it is great for walking. All the streets look different. It is not cookie cutter. You can see all the pretty houses and nice California-style landscaping. And it is very safe.
The intersection of Wilshire and Westwood is like the center of the world, busy but clean and vibrant.

So you don't need to travel anywhere and you don't even need a car.

ddurrett896
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by ddurrett896 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 8:02 pm

Just got back from a similar trip with my family. Flew into LAX and spent a day doing The touristy stuff then drive to San Diego and spent the remaining 4 days there. LA was nice, San Diego was more laid back and chill.

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MastersChampion
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by MastersChampion » Wed Dec 05, 2018 8:04 pm

I don't think it's been mentioned, but I recommend the Diddy Riese ice cream/cookie joint on Boxton just south of the UCLA campus.
The Original Farmer's Market was also interesting.

If you get down to Long Beach, I second the recommendations for the USS Iowa and the Long Beach aquarium. The scale of the port of Long Beach is just amazing.

The funnest thing I did the last time I was in the area was to try surfing with DS at the M & M Surfing School in Seal Beach. REALLY fun, and I'm in my 50s.

As has been mentioned, I find LA itself to be crowded, monotonous and underwhelming. I've not been North, but South (Laguna Beach and much of Orange County) is much more fun, IMHO.

4nwestsaylng
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by 4nwestsaylng » Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:16 pm

btenny wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:36 pm
I do not think you can do LA and San Diego and see UCLA in 5 days. You do SD or you do LA. You have to pick. I suggest you focus on LA and UCLA stuff. Go to UCLA for a day. Go to Universal Studios and take a real studio tour and ride stuff for a day. See some movie stuff. Go see the Rose Parade stuff for part of a day. See the La Brea tar pits and Museum, go to the Queen Mary and go to the Long beach Aquarium for day. Then you have to spend part or most of a day at the beach. Go in line skate or ride a bike or just people watch on the board walk in Venice Beach. Watch the Muscle Weight lifters. Have an ice cream cone in December at the beach. Do other sight seeing stuff.

https://www.universalstudioshollywood.com/
https://www.venicebeach.com/the-venice-beach-boardwalk/
https://www.venicebeach.com/muscle-beach-gym/
https://www.yelp.com/biz/la-brea-tar-pi ... os-angeles
https://www.queenmary.com/
http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/

And as far as LA I like the place. It is crowded and busy but that is that is what makes it work. And the beach areas from Venice Beach south to Redondo Beach and Long Beach are world class.

Enjoy.
I completely agree. San Diego is another trip. I like L.A. as a short visit, especially Getty Center, Huntington Gardens and the beach. Venice I would not bother with, just not interested in the freak show. Maybe you need to see it once, I have.

Drive up Malibu way, maybe have lunch (check Tripadvisor reviews), go up to Zuma Beach.

Go visit Pepperdine University in Malibu. I would rather attend there for undergrad. I really doh't see the attraction of paying all that money to attend UCLA as an undergrad, but you may have your reasons. For the same money I would choose USC.

infotrader
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by infotrader » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:14 pm

I see no reason to apply for UCs unless you have large scholarship, since the fees are structured to greatly favor in-state students.

Also, you definitely need a car to drive around.

ssquared87
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by ssquared87 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:37 pm

Instead of a car, you can get away with Lyft or Uber...it's probably cheaper than paying for parking plus the cost of rental and gas. Uber and Lyft are much cheaper out here in LA than elsewhere. Public transport is a joke. You maybe be able to get a few places with it, but you won't be able to hit a lot of places you mentioned.

As far as sights in LA, skip Hollywood Blvd unless you want to convince your daughter not to go to UCLA. It showcases everything that's wrong with LA. I'd also pass on Getty Villa. I was looking forward to visiting the Villa for a while and when I finally went there it was such a let down. I've spent some time in Europe though, so seeing a recreation didn't do any of the places I've seen in Europe justice. The Getty was somewhat underwhelming too compared to The Met in NY or the Art Institute in Chicago, but I guess it's okay for the west coast.

Griffith Observatory on the other hand is outstanding. The architecture and scenery is spectacular and you can see the Hollywood sign from there. The only downside is that it gets crowded, but its worth seeing...have been there 4-5 times and never get bored of it.

Someone else suggested Huntington Library/Gardens as well. Couldn't agree more. Amazing being able to walk through a desert garden one moment and an asian garden the next. It's hard to see the entire grounds in one visit.

The space shuttle at the science museum is really cool too if you haven't seen one of the others in DC or New York already.

Definitely eat some Korean BBQ while you're in LA. It's the best you can get outside of Korea, and some of my Korean friends say the Korean BBQ here is better than many places in Korea.

This is all for LA. San Diego is way better and nicer. On the way down there, stop at Crystal Cove near Laguna Beach. It's an old 40's style resort town that was abandoned but all the buildings are still there right on the beach.

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Cyclesafe
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by Cyclesafe » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:39 am

Raised in the slums of Brentwood, alumni of both UCLA and USC, now live in San Diego.

Do the tour thing right, then when you're done, get the heck out of LA and do your vacationing in San Diego.

Stay near the beach. You might not feel like going swimming - wetsuits are worn even in summer - but the air will likely be in the 70's and higher in the sun if it's shining, which is likely. And the air will be clean too.

Everything you'd want to do is close at hand - unlike at the Gomorrah to the north.

You can always check out LA when you visit your daughter.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by unclescrooge » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:48 am

triceratop wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:50 pm
Considering the following to visit: UCLA; Getty Museum - new site off of 405 freeway; Getty Villa - old site; Griffith Park and Observatory; Hollywood - sign, walk of fame; Grumman’s theater; Queen Mary - Long Beach; Aquarium of the Pacific - Long Beach; Trip to Santa Catalina Island (Will skip the last 3 if we go to SD)
Skip Hollywood sign & walk of fame; swap Grauman's [sic] for New Beverly; add LACMA / Huntington Gardens.

Definitely do San Diego / La Jolla (esp. the cove). San Diego won't help much for your daughter to form impressions of LA, but I'd much prefer to spend time in SD than LA. Also consider Malibu.

disclosure: I live in la la land (as my location descriptor says).
+1

Also skip Getty Villa. It's in Malibu on PCH1, but with no views of the ocean :shock:

Definitely a let down after seeing the Getty museum.

Check out brunch at the Huntley hotel in Santa Monica. Restaurant has amazing views from Malibu to Palos Verdes.

That being said, San Diego is much better than LA. Winter in SD is amazing. Head down to Pacific Beach. Grab some coffee at Pacific bean and walk the empty board walk.

Check out the San Diego zoo.

ReadyOrNot
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by ReadyOrNot » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:15 am

If you like art museums, consider the impressive old school art collections of the Hammer museum in Westwood and the Norton Simon museum and Huntington library and museum in Pasadena if you will be in the vicinity anyway.
I guess UCLA is as good as any enormous university. It is hard to get a feel for the experience at giant universities while class is not in session. But will you get a tour of the dorms? I think they had a lot of triples and quadruples ( don't remember if they went higher) in rooms originally meant for doubles..

anonenigma
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by anonenigma » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:41 am

Depending on traffic, the drive to San Diego can be up to four hours.

Think twice before going to Malibu, significant parts of which recently burned - though the Getty Villa appears to have reopened.

stlutz
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by stlutz » Thu Dec 06, 2018 3:27 am

Use your rental car and go to the Nixon Library. I think it's the best of all of them.

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celia
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by celia » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:41 am

UCLA will be shut down during the time you are here. There are no tours scheduled for that week. But if you download a map, you can give yourself a self-guided tour, but won't be able to go in any buildings or talk to anyone. So the tour won't take long. :oops:
https://www.admission.ucla.edu/tours.htm

I think you'd be better off doing the virtual tour from your home computer.

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HanSolo
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by HanSolo » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:58 am

For studio tours, check out the Warner Bros. Burbank Studios VIP tours.

Miceli's Italian restaurant has waiters who break out into song on and off, and they're not bad. A lot of waiters in LA are occasional/aspiring performers.

In Westwood Village, I can't resist getting a falafel pita with cheese at the Falafel King (although the old location decades ago seemed more lively/vibrant, kind of like the SNL "cheeseburger cheeseburger" joint... just reminiscing here).

Movie fans might also be interested in free screenings at USC, sometimes new films in advance of public release. You need to register, and show up a little early because they overbook. Look for "Outside the Box Office" here (https://cinema.usc.edu/events/).

For amusement park fans, there's also Knott's Berry Farm (I haven't been there in decades).

Space fans might try the JPL Visitor Day Tour (I haven't), must register a few weeks in advance.

Those interested in witnessing the full spectrum of life in LA (underbelly, etc.) might like to take a look at Skid Row. I took a bus through there in order to meet a friend at Stumptown Coffee in the arts district and saw the tent city along the side of the road. Also, taking the subway (Red Line or Purple Line) in/out of DTLA is interesting if you want to see station interiors that resemble the insides of a sewer. The New York subway might have similar aesthetics, but they have a good excuse as theirs was built about a century before LA's was, and any deterioration is made up for in character. Can't say the same for LA. It seems somehow fitting that in LA, the sewer aesthetic is by design.

You may be aware that LA has a reputation for being a place for people who are pretty vapid and superficial (for example, Linda Ronstadt mentioned something to that effect, see her Wikipedia page). University life is, to some degree, insulated from the ills of the surrounding community, but still, I have the impression that UCLA is a place where it might be helpful to be more the "socialite" type going in. I spent a year in grad school there and left for other reasons than that (I was studying in a technical field and the studies in grad school leaned too heavily toward pure theory). Looking back, I think I might have done better if I had gone to UC Santa Cruz (or maybe Berkeley... but I didn't have the stellar undergrad GPA needed for that).

You might also try to find out more about the housing situation. As I recall, UCLA didn't have space for all the undergrads, so many have to live off-campus at some point.

MJS
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by MJS » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:51 am

If your daughter attends UCLA, will she have a car? If not, then spend some time testing what her experience will be like as a carless person, using public transportation & Uber: getting to different beaches, shopping for clothes or gifts, or hiking at Griffith park. Consider renting bikes, if that's something she might do for transportation.

Material Guy
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by Material Guy » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:36 am

My thanks again to all of you for the excellent responses. We are trying to sift through the suggestions to decide how best to finalize details of the trip.

I should add that yes, unfortunately, we will not have the official tour of UCLA, but we plan to get a map and walk around the campus and the surrounding area. Good point about the high cost of attending UCLA and the low chance of financial assistance. DS a few years back also got into UCLA, Berkeley and Davis, but ended ended up at Vanderbilt with an excellent financial package.

We are still somewhat torn between squeezing in a visit to SD or spending time this trip in the LA area.

Appreciate all the responses.

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HueyLD
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by HueyLD » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:03 am

The best suggestion is to stick with either LA ultramegaplex or SD megaplex. Driving back and forth between the two major areas can consume too many hours of your precious time.

It is well known that driving in LA area can be quite a challenge. But driving in North San Diego County can be just as bad, especially if you get on the freeways going south between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. from Oceanside to La Jolla. And the traffic is equally terrible going north between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. I thought the traffic was bad in LA until I got stuck in North County rush hours several times while visiting.

The mass transit system in LA metro may not be great, but it is not as bad as you think. You just have to study the metro map carefully and it runs very efficiently, well attended and very cheap. You can take your bike onto the metro rail train to provide an additional option to easily get around the metro.

Have a good time and enjoy what the big cities have to offer.

Barsoom
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by Barsoom » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:43 am

Hi.

I just signed up, but wanted to offer a suggestion.

Since you plan to stay in the Santa Monica area, you might consider taking the family north to Simi Valley to visit the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum. It's a beautiful place with lots to see.

-B

ebrasmus21
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Re: Southern California Vacation Questions

Post by ebrasmus21 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:59 pm

Barsoom wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:43 am
Hi.

I just signed up, but wanted to offer a suggestion.

Since you plan to stay in the Santa Monica area, you might consider taking the family north to Simi Valley to visit the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum. It's a beautiful place with lots to see.

-B

+1

If museums are of interest I would highly recommend. I’ve been to Nixon and Regan; Regan is probably 4x as large and the Pompeii exhibit might still be in town.

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